Hiking in New Zealand

New Zealand is famous for its beautiful wildlife and fabulous hiking tracks, however, it’s important for both locals and backpackers alike to be well prepared when planning activities in the outdoors. So before going on a hike, make sure you know (and follow) those five simple rules by AdventureSmart NZ. Those rules are also available on the website in various other languages if English is not your first language and would feel more comfortable reading in another one.

1. Choose the right trip for you
Make sure the trip you choose make sense for the skill of everyone in your group (you included). While some of the hardest trails in New Zealand lead to the most beautiful views, reflect on the risk that taking on such a hard trip could have depending on your fitness and survival experience.

2. Understand the weather

Weather can really make or break a trip, especially when you're heading outdoors. No matter what kind of weather you're dealing with, it's going to impact your adventure one way or another. Nasty weather—think strong winds, rain, and chilly temps—can be really challenging, especially if you’re not prepared for it. And intense sun can really ruin your trip if you did not pack enough sunscreens and hats. New Zealand is notorious for its quick-changing weather, so make sure you know what to expect in advance and always be ready for anything.

3. Pack warm clothes and extra food
Every journey, no matter how brief or seemingly straightforward, calls for some preparation. Ensuring you pack the right essentials not only enhances safety but also adds a lot to the overall enjoyment of your trip. Taking a moment to plan and pack appropriately can make a significant difference. It's not just about the destination but also about the journey and having the right items on hand can turn a harsh hike into a fantastic adventure. So, whether it's a quick walk done in an hour or a complex hike to the top of a mountain, a bit of preparation goes a long way in making the most out of your travels. In the end, it’s always safer to overprepare in case of an unplanned night under the stars than to end up having the worse and coldest night of your life after sleeping on itchy grass because your tent flew off last night.

4. Share your plans and take ways to get help
We all want our trips to go as planned – but sometimes they sadly don’t. Embarking on a hiking adventure is undoubtedly thrilling, but it's crucial to be prepared for the unexpected. Sharing your hiking plans with a trusted person and having the means to call for help can make a world of difference in case things don't go as smoothly as you hope.
Letting someone reliable know about your trip details, including your planned route, estimated time of return, and any potential side excursions, can be a lifesaver. This information not only helps rescuers locate you more efficiently but also ensures that someone is aware of your whereabouts in case of delays or unforeseen circumstances.
While our current technology means that most places around New Zealand now have reception, some places still do not. What this means is that it is always safer to make sure to bring an Emergency Locator Beacon (EPIRBS) with you; an essential piece of kit for any outdoor adventure which will alert responders to your location if you get into difficulty. If you’re struggling to find one, you can always rent them from UoA’s Tramping Club (as well as many other items that can make your hike a lot easier).

5. Take care of yourself and each other
The best way to enjoy your experience in the outdoors and make it home safely is to look out for one another. While the experience of going on a solo adventure in the calm of nature may feel like a dream for some, it is also important that it could easily turn into a nightmare if something unplanned happens. Because of that, we will always recommend for you to go hiking in a group rather than by yourself, except if you are extremely experienced. The University of Auckland has a Tramping Club you may like to join on a trip if you do not know anyone else keen to join you on a hike.
Make sure to always listen to your guts if you feel like something is wrong and that you may need to end your hike early, but also listen and care for your peers if they express any types of feelings, whether that’s distress, fatigue or hunger. Do not hesitate to take any rests you feel like you may need, to eat when you are hungry and to drink when you are thirsty. Remember, whether you are laying on your couch in your lounge or in the middle of a mountainous forest, always listen to your needs and wants, and practice self-care.

Want to make sure you’re not missing anything before going on your hike or tramp? Check out NZ Mountain Safety Council’s video explaining how to properly pack for a Day Walk or a multiple-day tramp.